High Plains Book Award finalists announced

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Finalists for the 2019 High Plains Book Awards were released in June.

The winners will be announced during the 18th annual High Plains BookFest Oct. 10 to 12. The three-day event features free public readings, workshops and panel discussions in Billings by contemporary authors from the American West and Canada.

The list of finalists includes eight authors who were finalists in previous years, and one who was previously given the HPBA Emeritus Award It also includes 12 finalists from Canada and 10 from Montana.

All nominated books — a record 228 of them this year — were read and evaluated by community readers. Winners in each category will be determined by a judging panel of published writers with connections to the High Plains region.

Nominated books must have been published for the first time in 2018. Winners will receive a $500 cash prize. The High Plains Book Awards were established by the Billings Public Library board in 2006 to recognize regional authors and/or literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains, a region that includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Here are the finalists in all 12 categories:

Art & Photography:

“Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West,” by Dr. Peter H. Hassrick (return finalist)

“Bert Riggall’s Greater Waterton,” by Beth Towe

“An Honest, Genial and Kindly People,” by Adrian K. Paton

“Plains Indian Buffalo Cultures: Art From the Paul Dyck Collection, by Emma I. Hansen

Children’s Book

“Double! Not Half,” by Rodney Gottula

“My Buddy, Dido,” by Marion Mutala (return finalist)

“Prison Paws: Max’s Story,” by Donna Cochran

Creative Nonfiction

“Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption,” by Susan Devan Harness

“Petting Tigers: My Life as a Witness of Jehovah,” Shelley Smith Jones

“Warblers and Woodpeckers: A Father-Son Big Year of Birding,” by Sneed B. Collard III (return finalist)

“West to Montana,” by Christine Wortman-Engren


“A Death in Eden,” by Keith McCafferty (return finalist)

“The Flicker of Old Dreams,” by Susan Henderson

“Go Ask Fannie,” by Elisabeth Hyde

“The River by Starlight,” by Ellen Notbohm

First Book

“Double! Not Half,” by Rodney Gottula

“One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays From The World At Large,” by Chris La Tray

“Women Who Dig: Farming, Feminism and the Fight to Feed the World,” by Trina Moyles

Indigenous Writer

“AwÃsis and the World-Famous Bannock,” by Dallas Hunt

“Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption,” Susan Devan Harness

“One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays From The World At Large,” Chris La Tray

Medicine & Science

“Ghostwalker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul through Science and Story,” by Leslie Patten

“Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and the Birth of Hallucinogenic Research, by Patrick W. Barber

“Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life,” by David Quammen (return finalist)


“An African In Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A B C Merriman-Labor,” by Danell Jones

“Buffalo Heartbeats Across the Plains: The Last Great Hunts and Saving the Buffalo,” by Francie M. Berg

“Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates,” by Matthew J. Kauffman


“All That Held Us,” by Henrietta Goodman

“Blackbird Song,” by Randy Lundy

“Heavy,” by Joy M. Brown

“View from True North,” by Sara Henning

Short Stories

“Cloudbursts: Collected and New Stories,” by Thomas McGuane (HPBA Emeritus Award winner)

“Come West and See: Stories, by Maxim Loskutoff

“Thorn-Field,” by James Trettwer

Woman Writer

“Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption,” Susan Devan Harness

“Buried,” by Ruth Chorney

“The Flicker of Old Dreams,” by Susan Henderson

Young Adult

“Bronte’s Thunder,” by Lucinda Stein

“Sadia,” by Colleen Nelson (return finalist)

“Wolfe in Shepherd’s Clothing: A Shepherd & Wolfe Mystery,” by Counios & Gane (return finalists)

For more information about the High Plains Book Awards visit the website wwwhighplainsbookawardsorg or email Info@highplainsbookawardsorg.

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